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Build quality, test & inspection

It is a well-documented fact that the single biggest contributor to machine downtime and field failure is caused by poor electrical connectivity.

Just one poor crimp connection can cause machine failure, and the sheer volume of electrical connections in and around a piece of complex machinery could make this particularly challenging.

In order to avoid the damaging costs associated with this failure, you will want assurances from your outsourcing partner that they recognise the importance of repeatable quality within their manufacturing processes.

PP C&A ‘s solution to this challenge is the significant investment in automation for both cable manufacture and cable testing.

Addressing connectivity

Automated Test Equipment (ATE) is a term you may be familiar with. It uses automation to measure and evaluate connectivity for a given cable harness quickly and precisely. Such a process not only looks at ‘point to point’ accuracy of a harness, it can also perform other checks in relation to its construction, such as high or low resistances, and well as carrying out other tests such as a Hi-Potential test which checks the adequacy of electrical insulation.

By testing cables in this way, you minimise the opportunity for manufacturing errors not being identified and rectified before that cable harness gets integrated into a larger, more complex control system and the associated machinery. Faults can then develop later down the line, often once the machine is installed and commissioned (due to environmental conditions as well as vibration). At this point, identifying the issue can be extremely difficult and time consuming, leading to unnecessary and costly down time, particularly with intermittent issues.

An area of significant investment is in the automated production and ‘in process’ test (CFM – Crimp Force Monitoring) for single core cable production, which utilises a 100% checking regime of all crimps being applied, ensuring strip back lengths, crimp position and applied crimp force are all in line with the required specifications.

In 2019, PP C&A installed a world first in crimping technology – An Artos CRX33-GVM, modified for its exact production requirements. It provides shorter handling distances and can process cables at over 5 metres per second, whilst still maintaining very high levels of accuracy. Every single core cable goes through automated cable prep, automatic cutting, crimping, and identing with direct ink jet printing.

The design and build quality of any cable harness cannot be overstated when considering most failure in any electrical system is inferior quality of connectivity. By automating both the production and test of single and multi-core cables, PP C&A can minimise risk for both its customers and the end users.

In addition to automated cable preparation and ATE testing, other processes can be adopted to ensure performance and reliability of a given system. PP C&A has designed bespoke functional test rigs for many of its customers, to fully simulate the desired operating requirements of a given control system, which often includes software to check all inputs and outputs are correctly connected and all signals are being seen and read.

Recent investment includes:

  • Cable cutting & crimping machinery (inc. ARTOS, Schleuniger, and Z+F)
  • Automated cable identing
  • Torque tooling
  • Automated test equipment (inc. CIRRUS)

A Lean 6-Sigma improvement culture

One of the core areas of PP C&A’s Lean 6-Sigma approach is in the engagement and continued education of its people.

Every member of staff is encouraged to suggest and implement improvements into process through PP C&A’s improvement systems (Route 6%). This aim is not only to empower the very people undertaking the manufacturing operations on the shop floor to remove ‘none value add’ activities, but to also recognise employees for their improvements.

PP C&A has created a pool of informed experts in every discipline, able to identify, take ownership of, act on, and create continuous improvement in the manufacturing and testing processes to boost the added value benefits passed on to customers.

When training staff and strictly abiding by Lean 6-Sigma principles, that focus on adding value to the customer is key. Without a customer focus, improvement techniques are often difficult to employ and can be too short sighted, so PP C&A ensures that the customer needs are central throughout.

PP C&A celebrates a highly engaged workforce that genuinely cares about quality and the customer. It is this very culture that is combining with the benefits of ongoing investment in equipment and automation that sets the seal on a reliable service.

And reliability is the underlining principle after all. Reliable connectivity, reliable performance, reliable people. If reliability sits atop the agenda for OEMs and machine builders searching an outsourcing partner, then PP C&A has it covered from every angle.

Production & engineering capabilities

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PP Control & Automation invests £250,000 in ‘world first’ technology

PP C&A can now process cables at over 5 metres per second, which means it is now 20% faster, whilst still maintaining the same accuracy.

This Artos CRX33-GVM investment is PP C&A’s latest commitment to automation and underlines the importance it plays in making manufacturing processes as productive as possible.

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We believe in meeting you, listening and understanding your needs first and foremost. If you are considering outsourcing for the first time or you wish to review your current outsourcing strategies, we would welcome the opportunity for discussion.

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